Author Topic: Recipes for Coffee Hour/Agape Meal  (Read 523 times)

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Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Recipes for Coffee Hour/Agape Meal
« on: July 16, 2015, 11:55:51 AM »
To Moderators: Please feel free to pin this, especially if it attracts many inputs.

To fellow Board Members: I am starting this topic to pass on some recipes for your consideration. I have made the topic broad enough to cover traditionally Orthodox fasting and feasting foods.

Here is the first one:

Carl's Banitsa, where I combined Greek and Bulgarian versions for making traditional spinach and Feta (white cheese) pie.

•   1 lb Phylo dough
•   ½ lb Feta cheese, preferably Bulgarian (Vigo sells it packed in brine) cut into ¼” cubes (don’t have to be perfect)
•   4-6  large eggs (depends on how “eggy” you want this to be), setting aside one egg for the topping.
•   ½ cup thick plain yogurt
•   ½ cup softened cream cheese or additional thick plain yogurt
•   ½ cup soda water (unflavored)
•   ½ cup finely chopped parsley
•   ½ cup finely chopped fresh (baby) dill
•   1 large onion--finely chopped
•   10 oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and all moisture squeezed out)
•   4 pats of butter or extra virgin olive oil
•   pastry brush
•   9"x13" pan (should be 2" deep)
•   sauté pan, mixing bowls (large one for the filling and small one for  the melted butter)

1.   Defrost Phylo dough.  Put in the refrigerator overnight or defrost in room temperature for 5-6 hours.

2.   Make filling. 
•   Lightly fry finely chopped onion in one tablespoon of good olive oil until it is translucent. You can fry longer if it is done at a very slow temperature (to caramelize the onion) but do not burn it.
•   Squeeze dry the defrosted spinach; add 3-5 eggs, parsley, dill, yogurt, cream cheese, feta cheese, and fried onion; mix thoroughly but gently (you want chunks of feta in the mixture).

3.   Put it together and bake. 
•   Lightly melt the butter and put into small bowl. You can use olive oil instead (room temperature)
•   Open up the Phylo dough package.  If it is the widely available Athena brand, the package will contain  two individually wrapped 9”x 13” sheet packages—each 20 sheets for a total of 40 sheets.
•   Work with one pile of sheets at a time.
•   Using the pastry brush, butter bottom & sides of the baking pan.  Lay the Phylo sheets into the pan, TWO AT A TIME, folding sides as needed.  Dab (not brush) each one lightly with butter/oil.  Don't worry if sometimes two sheets stick together or some sheets tear up. 
•   After you've used ten sheets, evenly distribute one third of the filling.  Lay a second pile of ten sheets, two at a time, over the filling.  Again, dab each sheet with butter/oil.  Use another third of filling. Continue until you have exhausted the pastry sheets and the filling. (four pastry layers and three filling layers)
•   Cover and chill for 30 minutes to set.
•   Cut the banitsa into serving portions.  (I make 3 vertical and 5 horizontal cuts in a 9x13 pan).
•   Whisk together the remaining egg and the soda water.  Pour over the cut pieces, making sure that all of the squares are covered.
•   Place in a 350-degree oven and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Test by inserting a table knife to the center.  If it comes out relatively clean, your banitsa is done.  Don't let this go beyond golden brown.
•   Let cool for 5 to10-minutes to set.  The flavor of banitsa is enhanced when served warm; it's even better at room temperature and eaten with cool, plain yogurt.

Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: Recipes for Coffee Hour/Agape Meal
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2015, 12:03:14 PM »
Here is another one. I do not want to ignite verbal jousting as to the origin of baklava. I suspect that it started in Syria, but I get that Turks, Greeks and Bulgarians are all proud of their versions. I have tried all versions and come up with this one, which I prefer because I like my baklava gooey and lemony.

Carl's Baklava


1lb Phylo dough (available in the freezer section of most grocery stores)

1 lb of unsalted butter

1 lb of roughly chopped walnuts and/or pecans, unsalted pistachios & almonds

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)


Juice of 2 lemons (strained of seeds, pulp is ok)

1 cup of honey—preferably orange blossom honey

2 cups of water

2 cups of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange peel (or to taste) (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or to taste) (optional)


2" pastry brush

9"x13" pan (should be at least 2" deep)

Moist towel, sauce pot, 2 bowls (one for the nuts, the other for the butter)

1.   Defrost Phylo dough.  In accordance with package instructions.

2.   Make syrup.  In a small pot, combine the sugar & water.  Stir and simmer until the syrup coats a spoon.  Stir in the honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste, as well as the optional ingredients.  Continue simmer for another 5 minutes.  Let it cool and then chill it in the refrigerator.

3.   Make filling.  Coarsely chop walnuts (traditional) or a combination of walnuts, pecans, unsalted pistachios, and/or almonds.  Put in bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the optional items.  Set aside.

4.   Put it together. 
•   Melt the butter and skim off any solids.
•   Open up the Phylo dough package.  It will contain about 20 individual sheets of very thin dough that have been folded once and then rolled.  Unroll and lay flat the sheets.  Cut the sheets in half, leaving two stacks of 20 roughly 9"x13" sheets.  NOTE:  “Athena” brand is selling their one pound package in two individually wrapped 9”x 13” sheets.
•   Work with one pile of sheets at a time. Put the damp towel over the second pile (or open it later if packaged separately).
•   Using the pastry brush, butter bottom & sides of the baking pan.  Lay the Phylo sheets into the pan, ONE AT A TIME, folding sides as needed.  Brush each one lightly with butter.  Don't worry if sometimes two sheets stick together or some sheets tear up; it will turn out  great if most of your sheets are single and in one piece.
•   After you've used 10 sheets, evenly distribute 1/3 of the nut mixture.  The pattern is: 10 sheets + 1/3 nuts + 10 sheet + 1/3 nuts + 10 sheets + 1/3 nuts + 10 sheets. Again brush each sheet with butter.
•   Chill the baklava for 30 minutes to make the next step easier. Cut the baklava into no smaller than 2”x2” squares. After the baklava has set and just before serving, you will have the opportunity to cut the pieces further to serving size.

5.   Bake. 
•   Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place baklava in center and bake for 1 hour (sooner if using a class pan).
•   The baklava is finished when the top is golden brown.
•   NOTE:  Some ovens are hotter than others.  The baklava must not over bake, so please keep a close eye on it. 

6. Finish.  Pour the chilled syrup over the hot baklava evenly and let it soak uncovered for at least a couple of hours (overnight is best). Using a sharp knife, finish cutting the serving pieces.

7.  Enjoy.  Recommend serving with strong coffee or cold milk.  Baklava will keep for a week.

Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: Recipes for Coffee Hour/Agape Meal
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2015, 12:13:27 PM »
For Agape Meal. This one is my pride and joy that won a local contest, but I cannot claim authorship. My contribution was a very small change (use of Mozzarella pearls as a substitute for Bocconcini)

Hot Sausage Pasta Puttanesca with Bocconcini

olive oil   2 tablespoons   
hot Italian sausage, ground or removed from casings   1 pound   
yellow onion, diced   1 large   
garlic, minced (6 cloves or 6 teaspoons mince   
Anchovies (4  whole or 2 teaspoons)   
Italian seasoning (dried herb mix)   1 tablespoon   
Red pepper flakes (have some also on the side)   1/4 teaspoon   
Crushed tomatoes, can   1 (28 oz)   
Capers, drained   2 tablespoons   
Pitted olives, chopped (Calamata)   1 cup   
sea salt and fresh black pepper   To taste   
Pasta (linquine, spaghetti, farfalle, etc.)   1 pound   
fresh basil, chopped   1/4 cup   
parsley, chopped   1/4 cup   
Bocconcini, sliced in half, or Pearl Mozzarella, whole   8 ounces   
Parmesan cheese, grated for serving   To taste   

1. In a large, deep-sided skillet heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; add sausage, onion, garlic, anchovies, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Break apart the sausage as it cooks into bite-size pieces.

2. When sausage is browned add tomatoes, capers and olives. Simmer for 25-30 minutes.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions in plenty of salted water to just before al dente. Set aside separate from the sauce, sprinkling a bit of olive oil and keep covered.

4. Just before serving, toss pasta, half of the fresh herbs and sauce in the simmering sauce until pasta is al dente. Taste and, if needed, season lightly with salt and pepper

5. Take off heat, mix remaining fresh herbs and Bocconcini / Mozzarella Pearls into sauce, toss and serve with hot pepper flakes and grated parmesan on the side.

NOTE: You may want to cut the parsley and double up on the basil. It really makes a difference if you add the herb and Mozzarella just before you serve. The Mozzarella should be warm but not runny--you want that bit of cheese to pop in your mouth. same thing with the herbs, especially the basil. As for the parmesan, if you can afford it, use the real deal and grate it at the table.

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Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: Recipes for Coffee Hour/Agape Meal
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2015, 05:27:41 PM »
Sultan Baklava

1lb Phylo dough
1 lb of unsalted butter
2 cups of chopped unsalted pistachios
2 cups of chopped dried fruits (apricot & mango)
1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
1.5 cups of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1.   Thaw the phyllo overnight in the refrigerator. Then put the phyllo box on the counter to come to room temperature, 1.5 to 2 hours.

2.   Make the filling: Put the pistachios, dried fruits, and sugar in a food processor. Process until the nuts and apricots are finely chopped (the largest should be the size of small dried lentils), 30 to 45 seconds.

3.   Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Brush the bottom of a 9x13-inch metal pan with some of the butter.

4.   Assemble the baklava: Unfold one pack of the phyllo sheets and stack them so that they lie flat on your work surface. Cover the top with plastic wrap, letting some excess plastic fall over all four edges. Dampen and wring out a kitchen towel and drape it on top of the plastic wrap. 

5.   Remove a sheet of phyllo from the stack, re-cover the rest (be sure to cover the remaining sheets each time you remove a new one), and put the sheet in the bottom of the pan. Brush the sheet with some of the melted butter but don’t soak the phyllo. Repeat until you have layered and buttered about half the sheets from the first pack—about 10 sheets in all. Sprinkle about one-third of the filling evenly over the phyllo.

6.   Repeat layering and buttering the remaining sheets from the first pack and sprinkle on another third of the filling. Open, unfold, and cover the second pack of phyllo. Layer and butter it as described above, sprinkling the remaining filling after layering about half the phyllo, and ending with a final layer of phyllo (you may not need all of the butter).

7.   Cover loosely and put the pan of baklava in the freezer for 30 minutes.

8.    Before baking, use a thin, sharp knife, preferably serrated, and a gentle sawing motion to cut the baklava on the diagonal at 1-1/2-inch intervals in a diamond pattern. Try not to compress the pastry by pressing down on it with one hand while cutting with the other. Be sure to cut the pastry all the way to the bottom of the pan.

9.   Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Bake the baklava until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool to room temperature.

10.   While baklava is baking, make the syrup: Simmer the sugar and orange juice in a small pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cardamom.

11.   Pour the syrup evenly over the entire surface of the baklava, allowing it to run down into the cut marks and along the sides of the pan.

12.   Make Ahead Tips. The baklava is at its best about 24 hours after the syrup is added. It will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days, though the texture changes from flaky and crisp to more solid and crystallized as time goes by.

Offline Amatorus

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Re: Recipes for Coffee Hour/Agape Meal
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2015, 03:50:08 PM »
I want to make something of these, but every time I cook either something goes wrong and/or my father yells at me.